In a widely expected move, the Trump administration has announced a change to immigration regulations that would alter the label of ‘public charge’ to include anyone receiving common public benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid. The changes are set to be implemented in 60 days, but will likely be challenged in court. Many immigrants to the United States are legally entitled to receive the government benefits that could prevent them from receiving a green card or visa.
The proposed new rules for being considered a public charge were published for public comment late last year, with rumors about the changes surfacing even earlier. Since the rumors began, according to the nonprofit research organization the Urban Institute, 13.7 percent of adults in immigrant families actively avoided receiving public benefits that would be grounds for being considered a public charge. It should be noted that the rule on accepting non-cash public benefits will not be retroactive. If an immigrant has previously accepted food stamps, housing assistance, or Medicaid benefits, he or she would not automatically considered a public charge.
Another change included in the new rules is the consideration of whether or not an immigration will become a public charge. New criteria will be used to determine if an immigrant is considered likely to become dependent on the government for assistance. The list of criteria include household income, chronic medical conditions, possession of medical insurance, credit score, education level, English skills, and community support. It’s unclear how exactly these criteria would be used to determine eligibility for a green card. Immigration experts believe that the changes would significantly lower legal migration rates from poorer countries.
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It’s hard to say what the outcome of this rule change will ultimately be or how it will affect any particular U.S. immigrant. As always, the immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth will be monitoring the effects of the new rule changes. Immigrants seeking entry to the United States should consult with an immigration attorney to determine if this, or any other changes to immigration law, will affect them. For a free consultation, call us today at 888-517-9888.